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Here's how not to blog (IMHO)
2010-09-25: Here's a popular way to do Internet marketing that I don't agree with.
I won't credit them with links but in my capacity as Internet marketer for some local Scarborough businesses that benefit from tourism (B&Bs, hotels, shops, restaurants and so on) I monitor mentions of Scarborough appearing around the web.
Fairly regularly (maybe twice a week) there's a fairly poor quality blog about some specific aspect of Scarborough written by someone who, I would guess, has never been here. Here's the sort of thing I mean http://www.orleanshotellasvegas.org/planning-a-group-scarborough-holiday/. That link, Scarborough Holiday, goes to Hackness Grange Hotel http://www.hacknessgrangehotel.co.uk/ so I guess they are the paymaster for the strategy.
So, let's think about that orleans hotel blog for a minute. It's clearly not about the Orleans Hotel Las Vegas, if that exists. Whoever's created it presumably has chosen that phrase because people search for it, and is hoping to a) get a position in Google for that phrase .. which he does, position 6 .. and then b) to distract people from their original purpose (presumably to book a room or whatever) and get them into booking a holiday in Scarborough or to switch their cellphone contract.
There are 269 pages in that blog, written since April 16th .. so 23 weeks, about 12 blog entries per week.
Curiously, despite that position in Google search, the blog's home page has no PageRank (Google's assessment of the blog's reputation .. a few of my website pages are PR3 (out of 10)). A link from a PR3 page is worth about 4,000 PR0 links.
There's a thing called spinning, which is where you write your blog/weblog like this, with slashes/forward slashes to provide alternative/different words and then you run your text/story/blog entry/copy through a spinner/editor/processor/programme which spits out/creates/writes multiple/many versions/different versions of your text. I'll stop that now. The idea is you can then send different versions to different websites that accept such things. Google knows when it sees the same article several times, so this is a way to get around that and persuade Google that these are each original articles.
I like to think of Google as a God-like figure. What does Google want? For each and every searcher and every query in whatever language or country, it wants to provide the best links to its users. Its business lives or dies on that. And Google knows when someone clicks a link and comes straight back to Google. Google thinks "ah, that didn't work for that reader, I won't do that again". If someone on Facebook or Twitter puts up a link to a blog, Google thinks "ah, the humans like it, I'll put it higher". In these ways all of us help Google work out what's good and what's not.
The other part of the God thing is .. stop trying to understand Google. They change their programme more than once a day and they employ people with brains the size of sofas so you're never going to manage it. And Google is all knowing. They know where you click, they know where you go. Google knows what you are doing. So stop trying to pull the wool over its eyes.
All Google wants is great links. If you are the best plumber in town .. genuinely .. Google will put you at the top. You get what you deserve, basically.
So the best strategy for getting to the top of Google isn't an SEO strategy at all, it's this: "be brilliant". Here you go: a Lanterna review in The Telegraph. Lanterna is an Italian restaurant in Scarborough with a great reputation. Did he get that by writing crappy blogs rehashed from the words left over after proper writers had left the room? No. No doubt the guy's a culinary genius who has dedicated his life to being the best he can be. The restaurant is always full, meals aren't cheap and Ayckbourn and people from the Independent dine there ... because it's the real deal. Maybe he employs a PR company to encourage those stories, I'd like to think it's pure reputation.
Anyway, back to that Las Vegas blog. Given that these articles basically rehash available information, they look spun, and the ones Google highlights to me (which will exclude those Google thinks are duplicates) are in blogs with no following, I think we can assume Hackness Grange has purchased a cheap blogging system as part of a link building campaign.
Is it working? Of course, we don't know from this quick analysis what else they are working on, particularly which keyphrases, but they are on page 4 of Google for Scarborough Holiday while my client is on about page 8. They have about 5 times the links that I have. But the top result for that search has a link count halfway between us.
Any conclusions? Nothing specific here, except maybe we have to fall back on our own values. I believe in adding value to the Internet, giving back. If I'm involved, I will be writing good, useful articles and placing them in places where the audience is looking for what I'm writing about. That way we are not just getting links to try to fool Google, we are genuinely helping people with our local or specialist knowledge and advice.
Hackness Grange Hotel looks beautiful. I'd start with some brand values about quality and go from there. Maybe big places just have to fill their rooms. Look at The Grand, iconic Victorian hotel that markets itself like Pontins.

By John Allsopp
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